Entrepreneurs build a lot of things you love and use these days. There must be someone who came up with an innovative idea and made it happen for the world. Someone needed to believe in that idea and invested to make it happen. When you finally reveal what you have created, you need to hope that it will work to justify your effort and investment. Entrepreneurship is very time-consuming and risky business.
There are some who love the challenges and rewards it brings when they succeed. These are the innovative personalities who founded a lot of companies and invested in ideas with a confidence that they will be the next big things. Here, we will discuss the top 10 tech entrepreneurs and what they have done for their businesses.
1. Elon Musk
This South African entrepreneur has been recognized to launch world’s first fully electric sports car under the brand, Tesla Motors. He has also co-founded PayPal. To eventually launch PayPal we all know today, X.com merged to Confininty Inc. He already had a web-based giant with Zip2, a corporate directory for newspapers, before PayPal. In 1999, he sold Zip2 to Compaq.
Along with Tesla Motors, he is also the CTO and CEO of a civilian space transport agency SpaceX, which is the first privately funded organization to orbit, launch and recover spacecraft and send these to the International Space Station. He also launched the concept, SolarCity, a solar energy organization and he is also promoting his concept of Hyperloop, a high-speed rail transport system.
2. Jay Adelson
He was one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time Magazine in 2008 and finalist for being the CEO of Digg in 2009, which one of the leading websites in its time. Adelson has been the co-founder of Equinix, a company which is recognized to provide internet exchanges and data centers. Apart from Kevin Rose, he went to launch Revision3 and Digg, where he is the Chairman of the Board.
Adelson went on and co-founded SimpleGeo, a company offering infrastructure for the apps, in 2010, to add geolocation features. He has been the CEO until the company was owned by Urban Airship, where he remained an advisor. Currently, he sits on various boards and he serves as an advisor for several companies. Opsmatic, his recent venture is aimed to help other companies in their operations.
3. Kevin Rose
If you ever loved TechTV, you may not have forgotten Kevin Rose featured on a show, The Screen Savers, which was all about latest tech and computers. If you haven’t come across his name, you are more likely be familiar with Digg, his most popular creation and a social news site where users can share news and discuss topics related to it. He also started a web-based TV network, Revision3, which creates online shows based on niche interests.
He also started Pownce, a micro-blogging site which couldn’t pan out and a mobile development facility, Milk, which was later owned by Google. He has invested in Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook, etc. as a venture capitalist. Currently, e joined Google Venture as a venture partner.
4. Evan Williams
He is one of the founders of Twitter. Evan Williams is also running several companies. Pyra Labs was his first successful venture which he helped to start. Blogger was his crowning glory, which was later owned by Google. Later on, he established a podcasting giant, Odeo, which was owned by Sonic Mountain.
Born out of Obvious Corp, which was co-founded by him with former Odeo staff and Biz Stone, Twitter was his biggest achievement till date. He created Medium after Twitter, a publishing giant, with a fellow co-founder of Twitter and Blogger developer, Biz Stone. Currently, Stone and Williams are busy winding down Obvious Corp. to work on separate startups.
5. Max Levchin
He is widely regarded as one of the co-founders of PayPal. He contributed to their anti-fraud department and served as CTO. He went on to various ventures along with PayPal. A slide was his first venture which started out as photo sharing app for social media. Later on, it turned into the leading third-party app developer behind Facebook.
Yelp is another well-known venture by him, which is a review and business rating site. He also started HFV to fund the companies which are based on data analysis, and Affirm to introduce the next-gen credit network and Glow to conceive for the parents.
6. Sean Parker
He was caught by FBI when he was 16 for hacking into a Fortune 500 company’s network. Then he went on to be the co-founder of Napster, one of the topmost file sharing sites on the web and a name to reckon with music piracy. Exactly how did he manage to top that? After Napster, his first venture was Plaxo, a social media site and online address book, where he was ousted by the financers of the company.
In the development of Facebook, he was instrumental and eventually became their first president. According to Mark Zuckerberg, Sean helped Facebook very much from college project to a real social media giant. He helped by giving advice along with investors. He also founded Airtine.com, a video chat portal with a fellow co-founder of Napster, Shawn Fanning and helped to fun Spotify, along with an online campaigning site, Causes.com.
7. Reid Hoffman
He is more of a serial investor than being one of the most powerful entrepreneurs. Most of the companies we know these days would have a hard time to survive without him. SocialNet, his first venture was started in 1997. It is an online matching site for interest-based matches and dating, a precursor to modern social media. Later on, he became a member of a board of directors of PayPal.
He also went on and co-founded LinkedIn a business based social network. He is widely regarded as among the most popular Silicon Valley investors and he is among the first investors in Zynga and Facebook, along with investing in Wikia, Digg, Last.fm and Flickr, to name a few.
8. Niklas Zennstrom
The Swedish entrepreneur is usually popular for the co-founding of Kazaa, a file-sharing peer-to-peer platform, and development of Skype. He did both of these with Janus Friis, who is his partner. With Friis, he has also started up an online TV service, Joost which used peer-to-peer tech to offer content to the viewer.
Atomico is his latest venture, which is a technology investment company which invests in disruptive, fastest growing technology companies. The company has invested in various companies; out of them are Supercell and Rovio. So, you must thank him for Clash of Clans and Angry Birds.
9. Nolan Bushnell
Haven’t you played Atari yet? If you are an 80s kid, you may have definitely remembered the jingle and several games which were played on Atari consoles. Nolan Bushnell was the mastermind behind Atari and among the founding members of video game world.
He is ranked as one of the ’50 Men who Changed America” by Newsweek Magazine and established up to 20 companies, and the most popular is Chuck E. Cheese, a family entertainment hub, and Atari. BrainRush is his latest venture which is aimed to make education interactive by adding the game into it.
10. Ben Horowitz and Marc Andreessen
Though the post is about top 10 most influential tech entrepreneurs, we have to name mention both Marc and Ben because they have invested a lot under their venture capital company, Andreessen Horowitz. So, it seems fair enough to feature both together. Andreessen is the co-author of Mosaic, the first web browser, co-founder of Netscape Communications Corporation, and started Opsware with him, which is an IT management program partner.
Before he started up their own investment firm, the duo was already investing in the tech industry and they were well known for investing in Twitter. They had been investing in several companies with their firm, including the ones which are widely used today, such as Facebook, Skype, Twitter, Zynga, and Groupon. These duos have played a very vital role to build the tech industry we know today.